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School is coming back in session, but not all schools will reopen in the fall. There are no statewide health mandates related to K-12 schools reopening being issued at this time, and it is important to note that local school boards and local jurisdictions have the authority to implement more stringent or less restrictive preventative measures than those recommended by the state. Many members have had questions about whether the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the laws regarding firearms on school campuses and school zones. Schools remain prohibited places as they pertain to the carrying of firearms in Missouri, whether school is in session or not during this pandemic.

Can a Firearm Be Carried onto School Premises?

Schools remain prohibited places as they pertain to the carrying of firearms in Missouri, whether school is in session or not.

There are exceptions to the school zone prohibitions. Individuals possessing a concealed carry endorsement may be allowed to carry a firearm on school grounds if they receive authorization from the governing body of the school. A teacher or administrator of an elementary or secondary school in Missouri who holds a concealed carry endorsement and has been designated by his or her district as a school protection officer may also carry a firearm on school grounds. Other persons with concealed carry endorsements are prohibited from carrying on school grounds, but it is not a crime for them to do so. Under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.107, a Missouri CCW holder who carries in a prohibited place shall not be guilty of a crime but may be subject to removal from the premises. If the person refuses to leave and a peace officer is summoned, such person may be issued a citation for trespass with a fine not to exceed one hundred dollars for the first offense. Be aware – subsequent violations may increase this penalty.

The same prohibitions apply to schools and school property, as well as school-sponsored activities, whether school is in session or not. Homeschooling or utilizing video conferencing to attend school from home are activities separate and distinct from school-sponsored activities, such as school dances or school sports, where firearms are prohibited. Your home does not become a school zone because your child participates in a class via Zoom, for example. Dual-purpose facilities such as churches and daycare centers are subject to school restrictions and their respective individual restrictions. For example, a church where a school also meets is a prohibited place for the carrying of firearms. You would need permission from the governing body of the school and from the governing body of the church to carry on the premises.

What about Weapons That Are Not Firearms?

Weapons other than firearms are also prohibited in school zones. In fact, all weapons readily capable of deadly force are prohibited on school premises in Missouri. The term, “any weapon readily capable of deadly force” can also be construed to cover knives, pocketknives, and foldable multi-tools. If you carried a knife over the summer, remember that it will not be lawful to carry it on school grounds or at a school-sponsored function.

Although there may not be a specific state law prohibiting non-lethal weapons, always check your child’s school policy before sending your child to school with what may be deemed a weapon. Failing to do so could cause your child to face disciplinary actions by the school including suspension or expulsion.

Missouri state law does not specifically prohibit the carrying of mace, pepper spray, or tasers onto a school campus. That being said, it is advised that you use extreme caution. If you are a college student, check with your college or university regarding their policies before attempting to carry mace, pepper spray, or a taser on campus or into a dormitory. Also, be aware of any private prohibitions on firearms in private student housing.

If your minor child or young adult has concerns about their safety at school, speak with a school counselor or school administrator regarding strategies for safety on school grounds or at school activities.

For any questions regarding self-defense on a school campus, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney.

The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.